Last week we visited Finnish tax administration headquarters, for the first time. We had been planning such a meeting for a couple of months, but nothing concrete had happened until one day I noticed that one of their analysts, Ville, had peeked at me in LinkedIn, leading to us inviting ourselves there. I was overwhelmed. In addition to the handful people physically present, Ville had managed to lure half a dozen people to attend virtually. Perhaps I was naïve in my expectation, but it really appears that the government officials in Finland are very keen to better understand cryptocurrencies and community currencies, the tax office being no exception. Or, perhaps working at the tax office can be compared to Azkaban. In any case, a senior officer there described himself (twice) as a dementor, apparently as he must every now and then remind people that in Finland the taxes are collected according to the pertaining law.
During our two hour meeting, we presented the ValueCraft idea, using the slides we had prepared at the Sitra Democracy hackathon. We paused for over an hour on the slide where we had outlined our taxation proposal, i.e. that there would be an “experiment” during which the participating people would pay income (and maybe
also VAT) in the complementary currency for transactions they make in that. That is, for example, if I consult Trustlines for eight hours and they pay for me 8 units in Trustline tokens (which of course do not exist yet), and I have to pay 25% of income tax on it, then I would need to pay two units of Trustline tokens to the tax office. In practise, the experiment would be limited to something more local, such as the Helsinki Timebank tokens, which are called tovi.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the meeting was that the forthcoming new tax administration strategy includes “practical experiments” as one item. A suitable community currency could well form a basis for such an experiment. Additionally, and somewhat surprisingly at least to me, people at the tax administration felt that our thinking is already sufficiently far that it would be useful to arrange a high profile seminar after the summer holidays, inviting there people from the Ministry of Financing, Prime Minister’s office, and tax administration, as well as from elsewhere within the national and Helsinki municipality governments.
Summa summarum, everything seems to make progress much faster that I was ever able to imagine.